Friday, July 11, 2008

Do Guinea Pigs go to Purgatory, Dad?

Last Tuesday night, at the Spe Salvi Colloquium hosted by the John Paul II Institute, Fr Anthony Robbie opined that it was legitimate to tell our children that their departed pets would be in heaven. I felt a little uneasy with that.

Any way, last night Mia's pet Guinea Pig, Pipsqueak, died. It was just a bit too cold for them outside, I reckon.

There were tears. We put his body in a little box with some straw and had a little funeral liturgy. The order of service was: Reading from Psalm 104 ("Thou openest thy hand... Thou takest back their spirit and they die...), singing "All things bright and beautiful", and Mia reading a little prayer from one of her children's books. Then the burial, in suitably rainy grey weather, in the back yard. No "In Paridisum". No prayers that Pipsqueak would be happy in heaven. Just trust in the goodness of the Creator.

Back to the Spe Salvi Conference, Josh was asking about my presentation on Ratzinger's theology of Purgatory. Because of the bad back, I didn't get to complete and polish and edit it, but you can get all the data by downloading the Powerpoint file here.

It's worth a thought, but if you want to allow that animals ARE granted entry into heaven, are they "like the blessed", ie. without sin? or is there a "purgatory" for animals also? Or a Hell for that matter? For really bad dogs...

Any way, we went straight out after the funeral and bought a new Guinea Pig. The new one is called "Stripe" (because he has one).

19 Comments:

At Friday, July 11, 2008 4:04:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Er sagt, Ich mache alles neu!

Alles!

Where does it say guinea pigs are left out?

Where does it say dogs are left out? Cats? Even garden snakes.

They do not have souls to save. Doesn't mean they are left out of the eventual complete rescue from the Fall, in which fell all of creation. And so he says I make all things new.

When I was an elder (before being past elder in either the elder or blogging sense) I remember my kids playing in the back yard. One of them said, Look Dad! all excited and held up a dead garden snake. I said to put it down, which he did, and soon as the sun was going down I said it was time to go in. But the older one, then about 6, kept looking at the dead snake, and when I asked him what was up, he said but two words, Mom died.

I thought, I've been screwed. Summer afternoons aren't supposed to be like this, a widower explaining dead snakes and moms to a kid. Then, it seemed addressed to me in utter clarity -- since when is this about you, it's about a little kid who needs some help about dead snakes and dead moms, you're his dad and a Lutheran elder, now get on the job!

So I did.

Since that time, there have been two such funerals in our back yard, one for our cat Smokie and the other for our dog Sheba: perhaps not found in the classic Lutheran liturgies, but a eulogy from each child, prayers of gratitude for the joys the pets bring, the sign of the Cross, then a proclamation of the promise of Christ that he makes all things new by the presiding elder, so to speak.

So, I look forward to greeting Pipsqueak in the new heavens and earth.

PS a couple of details. There is no hell for animals as they have no soul to lose. There is no purgatory for animals because there is no purgatory at all, however, if there were, it would not be for animals because again they have no soul and do not sin. It might be better to phrase these things not so much in terms of "heaven" but the redemption of all creation that will be the final stage.

Also sprach der Vorsteher.

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 5:52:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Animals cannot sin, therefore there is no purgatory or hall for them. Not all animals will be in heaven, but those which were "taken up into human life" (so to speak) by being pets and therefore loved by humans will almost certainly be in heaven.

I fully expect my dog Goldie and kid Francis to be in heaven.

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 5:54:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

not "hall", "hell"

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 11:18:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

Oh, don't feel the least bit uneasy, David! I totally agree with Past Elder (and I am very moved by his son's observations as well as those of David's daughter), Louise and Father Anthony.

My husband always smirks whenever he sees me poking my tongue out at Mother Angelica's older programs where she solemnly and definitively pronounces that animals do not have souls and do not go to heaven (and I really don't spend all that much time watching her). The Old Testament clearly states that all flesh that contains lifeblood is "ensouled", but animals (wonderful name, coming from the Latin "anima" -- "soul") no doubt have the appropriate "animal" souls.

I've also noticed on many other Christian sites (including EWTN and the LCMS) it is stated that animals have no "rights" -- well, I would beg to differ. The Old Testament has far more reference to God's care for all living things than the new (perhaps because of the NT's more urban roots); Proverbs says that a righteous man regards the life of his animals but the mercy of the wicked is cruel -- the Psalmist declares that the Lord cares for both man and animals. But I digress -- when St. Paul speaks of the coming liberation of the groaning creation (groaning because of the fall of man, not the animal world) he surely means the entire cosmos. That observation has been made by many of the early Fathers of the Church.

PE is spot on, He has made ALL things new!

Louise has touched very nicely on a position also held by C.S. Lewis that those creatures who had the closest relationship with humanity will by that fact also be present with us in the new heaven and earth.

And who knows, it may be even more than that!

I very much look forward to seeing all the wonderful animal companions God has given me in the world to come. They have taught me so much about unconditonal love and faithfulness.

What a joyous reunion it will be!

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 12:34:00 am , Blogger Fraser Pearce said...

I think I must side with Homer Simpson, and say that Richard Nixon's dog 'Chester' (i.e. Checkers) will be in hell, as will Hitler's dog (Blondi), and the Lassie that mauled Timmy.

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 2:43:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Can anyone, I say anyone, dispute the wisdom of Homer Simpson :)

I think Blondi should get a break, though, considering her master, who professed to love dogs, poisoned her!

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 3:39:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

I think Fr Robbie, a noted humourist, was teasing you, David.

Whatever would my old lecturer, Dr Hayden Ramsay, make of this outbreak of incorrect thinking?

Man has a rational and therefore immortal soul; animals don't.

I loved my pets, but they ain't gonna come back.

If you cease to exist, "you" can never be remade: without continuity, "you" can't be the same person/whatever.

Simple commonsense, that is to say, Thomistic philosophy, tells us so.

What next, square triangles?

I hadn't previously heard of "I renew all" and Ps 103 meaning (imagine PE & CS Lewis agreeing): "I believe in the resurrection of the pets, and life everlasting - with Fido and Fluffy."

(What is 'pet' in Latin?)

But I'm willing to go along with all this speculation, just so long as it's not some dreadful heresy spawned by Satan to damn sentimental minds...

It sounds like a new English heresy to rival Pelagianism!

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 3:51:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Joshua, Thomistic theology was also responsible for some pretty sorry opinions of women.

Sorry, I don't buy it. There's good reason from Scripture to believe that the new creation will include ALL of creation. Animals don't need to have a "rational" human soul. They glorify God simply by being what they are.

The Christian East has always had a stronger sense of this than the West (i.e., Dostoevsky).

I'd be surprised if Father Robbie was "teasing". I've spoken to other Catholic clergy who also believe the new creation will include animals.

But I will most cheerfully agree to disagree with you :)!!

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 10:20:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Leaving aside a certain comment, perhaps I can point to Divus Thomas and the opinions of his followers about a very important related question:

Whether cats (not dogs!) may be ordained?

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 11:22:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adding to Christine's comment, Paul says "The entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly...". It is "all of us" in addition to the creation...
Why restrict heaven to pets? All animals live according to God's plan for them...
And - it is a personal belief of mine - God does not create to destroy what he has created with love.
Elise B.

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 3:15:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Louise has touched very nicely on a position also held by C.S. Lewis that those creatures who had the closest relationship with humanity will by that fact also be present with us in the new heaven and earth.

I reckon that must be where I got it from.

Animals, I have read in a catechism for children, have souls but they are not immortal. Although I wonder if the Lord could make them immortal once they had been loved by humans.

"Animal Rights" I think are derived more from what it means to be fully human. A fully human person would never cause an animal unnecessary suffering. Such a person would kill animals for eating, but quickly. No decent person would be cruel to an animal - it is against human dignity to treat lesser beings with cruelty.

Having said that the PETA types have an absurd anthropomorphic view of animals.

I would not, by any means, disagree with the Angelic Doctor lightly, Joshua. It is no matter of great importance to me, although I should be happy to see my dear Goldie again.

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 3:36:00 pm , Anonymous Sharon said...

Joshua, Thomistic theology was also responsible for some pretty sorry opinions of women

Christine, what were those opinions and where exactly would I find them?

 
At Saturday, July 12, 2008 6:02:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Judas in a trireme, animals don't need a human to love them to ratify their existence!

"Animals in heaven" hasn't a bleeding thing to do with their having souls redeemed by the blood of Christ. That's a human phenomenon -- one which takes its context in the Fall of all Creation, not just Man, so the redemption of Man takes its context in the redemption of all Creation. And in the new heavens and earth, animals will not be there for the reason we are, the effect of salvation from sin, but as the effect of the renewal of all Creation, all things new.

 
At Sunday, July 13, 2008 10:13:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Ahem, a quote from Father Oscar Lukefahr, C.M. regarding Creation in his book "The Privilege of Being Catholic":

(page 14)

Christ Redeems Creation

We Catholics believe that Christ's life, death, and resurrection redeemed not only humanity, but in a very real sense, all of creation. According to Vatican II, Christ's redemptive work involves "the renewal of the whole temporal order." God "intends in Christ to appropriate the whole universe into a new creation, initially here on earth, fully on the last day" (SVC, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, 5).

Regarding Past Elder:

so the redemption of Man takes its context in the redemption of all Creation. And in the new heavens and earth, animals will not be there for the reason we are, the effect of salvation from sin, but as the effect of the renewal of all Creation, all things new.

Beautifully stated !!

 
At Sunday, July 13, 2008 10:28:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christine, what were those opinions and where exactly would I find them?

Joshua, I have great respect for Aquinas and he wrote some darn fine hymns. Acknowledging that he is a Doctor of the Church he was nevertheless a man of his time. Neither Doctors nor Church Fathers were infallible and because of the Aristotelian foundation of Aquinas' work his views on the inferiority of women, especially intellectually, run pretty strong in the Summa.

Louise,

Yes, PETA sometimes does go overboard but all reform movements have had their radical elements otherwise nothing ever changed.

I submit that animal cruelty is wrong. Period. Not because is it not "worthy" of the human person, but because of the suffering it causes animals in and of themselves. I don't think the bull being tortured in the ring is the least bit concerned about human motivations (if only they had obeyed the orders of Pope Pius V to stop bloodsports).

 
At Sunday, July 13, 2008 1:26:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

I submit that animal cruelty is wrong. Period.

Well, of course it is, but it's not as if we think a lion is cruel for killing smaller animals in a horrid way, is it? Some animals have very vile methods for killing other animals and undoubtedly causing suffering - so why do we not denounce them for their cruelty?

Yes, animal cruelty is always wrong, but only when humans are doing it. Which just goes with what I originally said.

 
At Sunday, July 13, 2008 1:37:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

PE, for Heaven's sake!

animals don't need a human to love them to ratify their existence!

Well, not in this life, since God just makes 'em. But I cannot for the life of me see why he would effectively re-make the same animals that were here originally. Just saying "making all things new" over and over isn't precisely answering the question, really.

I cannot see why I should expect to see my departed dog, Goldie again, unless the Good Lord has decide to indulge me and my family (or Himself) by doing so. Whereas "making all things new" might well mean having lots of animals in Heaven, specifically created for the purpose.

For my part, this is all pretty speculative, but I'm still inclined to think my dog and kid will be there.

 
At Sunday, July 13, 2008 3:17:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Judas H Priest on a raft.

He said he makes all things new, not that he makes all new things.

 
At Monday, July 14, 2008 4:53:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Yes, animal cruelty is always wrong, but only when humans are doing it. Which just goes with what I originally said.

Yes. When humans commit cruelty it is much graver. Because we have a choice. We are aware. We are called to live by a standard that lions, tigers and other carnivores are not. Lions have no concept of "cruelty" -- you and I do.

It was wonderful to hear the marvelous passage from Romans this morning at Mass about the future liberation of creation from its bondage -- and I think Scripture is pretty clear that everything in creation IS in bondage to corruption because of the Fall.

It was not meant to be so and will be healed by the One who makes all things new. We are but stewards (and often not very good ones) of the household of God.

As far as God "re-making" the animals with whom we shared a companion relationship, I see that as a continuation of something that was begun in this life.

I don't expect to see every fish that appeared on someone's dinner plate in the hereafter :)

 

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